I’m back

I made no announcement when I left, but I left on vacation on the 28th, and returned home last Sunday. Unfortunately, I fell sick two days before we left Maui. I’m just now getting over it. I also sunburned the top of my head the first time we went snorkeling, which is now peeling and looks like THE WORST DANDRUFF IN THE WORLD!

In any case, we had a fine time – two nights and a day on Oahu, staying in Waikiki, followed by the rest of the week on Maui at a resort a little north of Lahaina. Major activities were snorkeling, walking around, and taking driving tours to the summit of Haleakala and along the Road to Hana.

I acquired a new (to me) ukulele on Oahu – I had wanted to visit a ukulele factory while we were there, because I figured that more of them were likely to be on Oahu than Maui (most of Hawaii has a small town/rural feel – Honolulu is the largest city in the state). I knew that several of them gave tours, but we only had Saturday on Oahu, so I figured I’d be lucky to find any factory open on the weekend. The only two factory tours I found listed in the guide books were for the Kamaka and Koaloha factories. Kamaka only provided tours during the week, which was a pity, because I own more than one Kamaka ukulele, but Koaloha was listed as having tours at 10am and 1pm on Saturday. Since it was between our hotel and Pearl Harbor, we decided to stop on our way to see the Arizona Memorial.

It took us a little while to find; some of the street signs for the side streets weren’t too noticeable. When we got there, the large sign was out by the street, but it wasn’t obvious that you had to make your way to the back of a deep parking lot between other buildings to get to the Koaloha facility. We made it, though, and we could see two men working on ukes through the screens. The guide book was wrong, though – there were no Saturday tours, and these guys were just trying to catch up a bit on the weekend. Ah, well.

So, we went on to Pearl Harbor and spent a few hours at the Memorial. The main museum there was closed for renovations, but the movie and the static displays around the area were well worth seeing. When we left, we decided (spur of the moment) to take the Likelike Highway over to Kaneohe Bay and travel back along the coast. While there, we came across this driveway display, which I couldn’t ignore:

Fresh Ukulele

That’s Kimo Tulley. His older brother, Tangi (pronounced “Tung-ee”) made the ukuleles – Tangi Ukuleles was started by him and their father, Jim. I actually wasn’t planning on buying a uke; I’m working again, but I’m not earning what I was before I was laid off. I couldn’t pass up the chance to try playing a few of them, though. I wasn’t interested in a six- or eight-string uke – I’ve got a six-string Kamaka tenor uke already. I narrowed down to the two I thought sounded best, which were on the back table … the mango concert uke on the left, and the koa tenor in the middle.

Fresh Ukulele - back table

The concert had loud and clear sound, but I decided that I liked the sound of the tenor better; it was sweeter. Marion thought that the tenor sounded best, also. I still wasn’t going to buy, but at the prices he was asking ($160 for the concert, and $280 for the tenor – I was expecting at least two or three times that), Marion told me I’d regret it if I didn’t buy it.

So I did, although we had to go to an ATM first, because we didn’t have that much cash between us. I had brought my $20 pawn shop “beater” uke on the trip, but I hardly touched it after that – the Tangi tenor sounds so much better. It’s got some wear and dings, but nothing significant. I think it was built in 2005 … there’s a date branded in the wood inside, but the last digit is a little blurred.

I like having striker plates both above and below the strings; sometimes I strum pretty hard, and that has an effect on the instrument. Actually, if you look at Willie Nelson’s guitar, you can see that he’s worn through part of it after so many years.


I think this is going to become my go-to ukulele. It looks and sounds beautiful, and it’s nice to have a good ukulele that has a good story associated with it.

New Tangi

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